What Michelle Dockery From Downton Abbey Is Doing Today

When an actor spends a significant amount of time working on a major series, it's natural to wonder what comes next for them? The stars of "Downton Abbey," for example, worked on the series from 2010 to 2015. While they certainly branched out from the show during that five-year period, "Downton Abbey" was the project with which they became most closely associated. 

The series lost several main characters throughout its six seasons, which may have contributed to why "Downton Abbey" was ultimately canceled. Notably, Dan Stevens and Jessica Brown Findlay left to pursue other opportunities (via Town & Country and Vanity Fair). However, the show retained several members of its main cast for the entire duration of the series, like Michelle Dockery, whose portrayal of Mary Crawley was the heart of "Downton Abbey." Dockery admitted she's received feedback that it's hard to imagine her in other roles besides "Downton Abbey" (via InStyle), but that hasn't exactly stopped her from forging ahead with several new projects in the years since the series ended.

Michelle Dockery 'jumped at the chance' to work with this director

"Downton Abbey" was obviously a major moment for Michelle Dockery, even earning her three Emmy award nominations, as Parade noted in a profile. The ambitious actor followed up her beloved role as Lady Mary with a challenging part as a struggling single mother in Ritesh Batra's movie "The Sense of an Ending." Adapted from the novel of the same name by Julian Barnes, the film follows Dockery's committed daughter as she helps her father (played by Jim Broadbent) face up to his troubled past.

As the "Downton Abbey" star enthused, "The film is a beautiful adaptation of the book which I love. And I jumped at the chance to work with Ritesh who also filmed 'The Lunchbox.' I can watch 'The Lunchbox' over and over again and feel the same after every time." She was drawn to the story of a couple everyday people who go on a life-changing journey. Dockery opined, "As individuals we all have a journey and are the authors of our own story. We are all extraordinary." 

Moreover, she was attracted to the character of Susie specifically because she was so difficult to figure out.

She lost her fiancé

In 2015, at the height of her "Downton Abbey" fame, Michelle Dockery faced unimaginable personal tragedy when her fiancé, Irish PR director John Dineen, died from cancer at the age of 34. The actor admitted to The Guardian in 2017, "I don't have the vocabulary to describe what it felt like. And what it still feels like." Acknowledging that her life completely fell apart when Dineen died, Dockery explained, "I refer to myself as a widow, yes. We were engaged, and married at heart, and so I do consider myself a widow."

Throughout his illness, Dockery was playing Lady Mary, who suffers a similar loss, which made the situation that much harder to bear. Thankfully, it ultimately gave her a new sense of perspective on life and on her job too, naturally. Per Hello! magazine, at Dineen's memorial service, the "Downton Abbey" star praised her late fiancé for being equally dedicated to his personal and professional lives. Clearly, she's paying tribute to him by continuing to push forward on both fronts herself, regardless of how difficult it might be.

Letty in Good Behavior was Michelle Dockery's dream role

It's understandable Michelle Dockery would want to change up the roles she took on after playing the same character on "Downton Abbey" for so long. However, as the actor clarified in an interview with Parade, she wasn't "aggressively looking for something so vastly different" because Lady Mary continues to mean a great deal to her. Still, Dockery hit the jackpot when the part of Letty in the TV drama "Good Behavior" came along. "I was longing to play a part like Letty," she shared. "It's a dream come true for me to have a multifaceted role like that with her heart wide open and all that rawness." Per InStyle, playing the scheming con artist also required the actor to finally get her driving license. 

Dockery admitted that sometimes casting directors can't see her as anyone but her "Downton Abbey" character, which is frustrating. But with Letty, the show's casting directors clearly knew as well as Dockery did that she was perfect for the role. Recalling how the script's first page involved her character taking the wallet from a man who was attempting to attack her, the actor stated succinctly, "I was like, 'I am playing this role.'"

Michelle Dockery was nominated for an Emmy for her work on Godless

Michelle Dockery is no stranger to the Emmy Awards, given she was nominated three years in a row for her role in "Downton Abbey." But, as Vanity Fair noted in a profile of the star, getting the nod for her work in "Godless" was extra special. Dockery plays Alice, a gun-toting widow and single mother carving out a life for herself in the harsh Wild West. "Getting the role was a big deal," Dockery admitted. "Westerns are something very, very far removed from anything that I thought I would do, and something that you don't expect to play. They're quite rare these days."

She grew up watching Westerns and felt a unique kinship with Alice. The role involved intense stunt training and period costuming, both of which Dockery very much enjoyed. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, the British actor revealed Scott Frank, who created "Godless," didn't think she'd be up to the challenge, having only previously watched Dockery in "Downton Abbey." Thankfully, her audition tape sealed the deal. Dockery reasoned, "This career takes a hell of a lot of patience for different reasons, but I'm very lucky."

She returned as Lady Mary in the Downton Abbey movie

Although Michelle Dockery branched out — with the likes of "Good Behavior" and "Godless," in particular — Lady Mary was never far from her mind, and, in 2019, Dockery returned for the "Downton Abbey" movie. Hilariously, because the actor had so much experience in the interim playing American characters, she admitted to InStyle, "When we filmed ... I think [my character] Lady Mary started off being a little too posh." The film was well-received by critics, achieving an 84% rating on reviews aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, while it took in a staggering $193,795,496 at the global box office, per Box Office Mojo.

Luckily, despite having to find her way around the accent again, Dockery told InStyle that returning to Lady Mary was a piece of cake. There were three years between the show and the movie, but the actor said, "It felt like no time had passed at all." Moreover, the "Downton Abbey" movie gave Dockery a new appreciation for the project. She shared, "[I realized] I'd taken some things for granted. Like driving up to that house [the setting for 'Downton Abbey'], it honestly took my breath away."

Michelle Dockery found love again with Phoebe Waller-Bridge's brother

Four years after the devastating death of her fiancé, Michelle Dockery found love again with the sibling of another celebrity. Per the Daily Mail, the "Downton Abbey" star began dating Jasper Waller-Bridge, brother of famous scribe and "Fleabag" creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge, in late 2019. The low-key couple made their red carpet debut that same year. Jasper, a creative director six years younger than Dockery, reportedly met her through mutual friends. She and his famous sister are friendly, too, of course. 

According to an insider, Dockery's new relationship was "taken slowly and in a considered manner but they are really enjoying being together." While Dockery had been traveling to do press for the "Downton Abbey" movie around the start of the relationship, she remained close with Jasper, with the source noting, "Their friends and families are very happy for them. It is just so lovely." The insider also clarified that Dockery isn't one to date big-name stars, so it makes total sense she had found love once again with another relatively normal person. 

The actress got gritty for Guy Ritchie

In keeping with her desire to take on more exciting and challenging roles after "Downton Abbey," Michelle Dockery relished playing a gangster's wife opposite Matthew McConaughey in Guy Ritchie's "The Gentlemen." Regarding her character, the actor enthused in an interview with Net-a-Porter, "Rosalind runs a car dealership, which she's inherited through her family. She's a real, tough, east-London girl. I grew up in Essex, and my family has a sort of east-London background, so it was great to step into that world." Dockery was delighted to get the opportunity to work with Ritchie and his star-studded, almost all-male cast, which also included Charlie Hunnam, Hugh Grant, and "Succession" star Jeremy Strong.

The legendary director — and former partner of Madonna — kept Dockery on her toes by encouraging improvisation in a more free-wheeling atmosphere than she's used to. Likewise, creating a killer look for the take-no-guff Rosalind was key to making the character feel real. As Dockery noted, "Rosalind has clearly worked her way up to where she is, really enjoys the lifestyle and having money, but still wants to work. I love that about her character, that she still gets her hands dirty."

Defending Jacob stretched Michelle Dockery's acting muscles in new ways

Dark TV drama "Defending Jacob" presented yet another opportunity for Michelle Dockery to show off what she could do outside of "Downton Abbey." As The Hollywood Reporter noted, the AppleTV+ series follows a desperate couple, played by Dockery and Marvel star Chris Evans, whose teenage son is accused of killing his classmate. "The emotional journey for her is a roller coaster really," Dockery explained of her character. "She's sort of questioning everything, her whole life. I think parent's guilt plays so much into this story in that she feels so much responsibility and guilt if he did do this or was involved in any way."

The actor went on to explain how difficult it was to switch off after finishing each day, admitting she usually finds it relatively easy to go in and out of character on set. However, she noted, "I really had to get into a zone with this part." As a result, Dockery had to remain in that emotionally charged headspace as a parent wondering whether her child is a murderer and trying to support him regardless because otherwise she'd find it tough to get back into it — understandably so.

Michelle Dockery is leading the search for new talent

Alongside ensuring her own career continues to reach new heights, Michelle Dockery is also leading the charge to find exciting new talent. As the Irish Independent reported in December 2021, the "Downton Abbey" fan favorite joined forces with fellow actors Andy Serkis and Sadie Frost on the jury shortlisting newcomers for the coveted EE Rising Star Award, as part of the 2022 BAFTAs. Previous winners include "Rocks" breakout Bukky Bakray, "The A List" actor Micheal Ward, "Black Panther" star Letitia Wright, and even major movie stars like Kristen Stewart, Daniel Kaluuya, John Boyega, and Tom Hardy.

Dockery enthused that serving on the judging panel meant "a great deal" to her. She said, "I'm honored to be part of it. And I'm really interested to see what comes out of this meeting, to deliberate what talent goes through to the shortlist." The British star emphasized the importance of celebrating new and upcoming performers by, hopefully, giving them a platform to earn bigger jobs and "make audiences more aware" of them.

She would love to play this iconic character someday

It feels as though Michelle Dockery's career is only just getting started, so it's unsurprising to learn there's still plenty more she wants to do. The actor told Parade that, given her stage school background, a Disney movie would be ideal since it would give Dockery the opportunity to sing and dance like she's always wanted. Elsewhere, the "Downton Abbey" star told The Irish Sun that, if the opportunity presented itself, she'd love to take her drinks shaken, not stirred. Dockery explained, "I love [James] Bond, so yeah, I'd never say no. [I] think a lot is changing with those films." 

Dockery loved the idea of the "X-Files" legend Gillian Anderson playing the character, back when rumors were circulating that she was taking over the role from Daniel Craig. Dockery opined, "Those roles with a darker side appeal to me. But it's all about them feeling authentic." What it comes down to then is quality. Dockery told Parade, "All I ever wanted was to play a range of different characters and keep doing this until I can't remember the lines anymore — when I'm past 90."

Michelle Dockery is back as Lady Mary once again in Downton Abbey 2: A New Era

Considering the first "Downton Abbey" movie was such a hit with filmgoers, a sequel was all but guaranteed, and indeed 2022 will see the release of "Downton Abbey: A New Era." Despite the apparent time change, Michelle Dockery will be reprising her role as Lady Mary once again. As Metro noted, the highly anticipated sequel finds all our favorite characters heading abroad to the glamorous south of France, where they're sure to cause a stir. On returning to the role that made her name once more, Dockery gushed, "It was brilliant. We're like a big family so it's always really fun going back, and we had so much fun."

The actor is excited for the film's release, particularly considering the chaos that ensues when this cast of fusty characters descends upon an entirely new setting outside of their comfort zone. Dockery teased, "It's really interesting to see the characters in another place. It's a really fun film. That's all I can tell you!"